The Local Outsider #29: CHNDTR, Nathan & Mercury and a delayed reaction to No Rome

As I start writing this month’s Local Outsider, I’m listening, again, to the new single from the Metro Fantastic – their vocalist, Carlos Castaño, talked about his love of hip-hop for us last year, and here he and the gang channel funk that just won’t stop. If only I wasn’t stupid (and tired) enough to not figure out how to properly embed a Spotify link, I’d give them a longer write-up, so here’s a link to “We Need To Talk” instead, which really just won’t stop. We await the new EP, and maybe a Soundcloud link soon. Now, for the rest of this month’s column…


How the hell do you pronounce CHNDTR? And what is it supposed to mean? This noob took months to finally figure out why. Ah, it’s the band’s vocalist’s name. Chin Detera. I really was pronouncing this “chindeeter”. To be honest, the name is a significant hurdle. What is this band supposed to sound like? Are they difficult? Surprisingly, it’s the complete opposite. It’s warm, and it packs a punch. Well, that description goes to “Kulang”, the newest track online, which has my jaw dropping as it swells into a cathartic resolution. Also, this noob is a sucker for female vocals – we have long established that – and Chin’s fills the room. That also applies to their other songs I’ve heard across the week, even if it’s the more familiar pop rock I’ve had an affinity towards, sort of, back in high school. Now I feel old…


On the other hand, it’s not hard to figure out where Nathan & Mercury got their name. All right, only half of the name corresponds to a member of the band – vocalist Nathan Huang – and Scout tells me the other half is named after the drugstore. (Also, why the hell am I reading Scout?) Actually, they’re a four-piece, and “Fools” also swells to a cathartic resolution. I must be in some sort of mood, like a feeling of disconnect I refuse to acknowledge. But this one is a bit more atmospheric – that’s what I got with the “Mercury” part of the band name – and is very much reminiscent of that moment between a sunny day and a rainy day. You’re just going to have that one big cry. Halfway through that song, though, I thought, “maybe that is too much?” but thankfully – too many th- sounds there – “Swing”, well, grooves.


Finally, No Rome. I have written about him before, and I know he has since packed up his bags for London to make music, which meant the surreal idea (to me) of Zane Lowe bigging him up on Beats 1. His weird-yet-accessible pop has been rightly hyped to the moon, but only in some corners of this ecosphere: otherwise most of us wouldn’t have heard of him until Bandwagon’s interview with Troye Sivan this week, which saw the Aussie pop wunderkind slowly turn into a fan. (He also liked BP Valenzuela’s “bbgirl”, from the Crydancer album we’re all waiting for – and a part of me is wondering if Singaporean act Ysa Yaneza, also on the video, is part-Filipino. This is not me being all #pinoypride.) I like the pop sensibilities in the single – and it’s really got him all over, more than the 1975-esque “Do It Again” – but it makes me ponder what pop music really is to us Filipinos. Is anybody playing this song on the radio? Is that the right barometer, even? Is he supposed to remain tucked away from most of us who don’t know better? Comments on the CHNDTR video I posted above were along those lines: “don’t tell anyone about this band, let’s keep them amongst ourselves.” That’s a different demographic, but man, that is a really sad sentiment. Don’t be fucking selfish. [NB]

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